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Sustainable economic development in Africa

The debate on economic development in Aub-Sahara Africa has been changing. Raising economic growth, productivity, and investment remains on the top of the policy agenda, but aspects of sustainability and prevention of forced displacement have significantly gained in importance. In the development community it is now consensus that economic development has to be sustainable.

The research presented in this Website Special examines to what extent economic development in Africa has been environmentally, socially and economically sustainable in recent years and what kinds of economic reforms are needed to promote sustainable development in Africa.

Our research suggests that in Africa, there have been numerous policy innovations to develop its economies in a sustainable manner, including for instance the development of environmental standards for investments or the development of local currency bond markets to reduce risks of external indebtedness. However, our research also demonstrates the barriers to sustainable economic development, which tend to be both financial and behavioral, and tradeoffs between different dimensions of economic development such as productivity and ecologic sustainability.

Research Staff


Non-open access

Large-scale agricultural investments and smallholder welfare: a comparison of wage labor and outgrower channels in Tanzania
Herrmann, Raoul (2016)
in: World Development 90 (February), 294-310

Tax revenue performance and vulnerability in developing countries
Morrissey, Oliver / Christian von Haldenwang / Armin von Schiller / Maksym Ivanyna / Ingo Bordon (2016)
in: The Journal of Development Studies (online first) DOI:10.1080/00220388.2016.1153071

Developing local currency bond markets for long-term development financing in Sub-Saharan Africa
Berensmann, Kathrin / Florence Dafe / Ulrich Volz (2015)
in: Oxford Review of Economic Policy 31 (3-4), 350-378

Industrial Policy in Developing Countries. Failing Markets, Weak States
Altenburg, Tilman / Wilfried Lütkenhorst (2015)
Cheltenham/ Northampton: Edward Elgar

Large-scale agro-industrial investments and rural poverty: evidence from sugarcane in Malawi
Herrmann, Raoul / Ulrike Grote (2015)
in: Journal of African Economies 24 (5), 645-676 

Behave and save? Behaviour, energy efficiency and performance of micro and small enterprises in Uganda
Never, Babette (2016)
in: Energy Research & Social Science 15/2016, 33-44

Social norms, trust and control of power theft in Uganda: does bulk metering work for MSEs?
Never, Babette (2015)
in: Energy Policy 82/2015, 197-206

Impacts of a micro-enterprise clustering programme on firm performance in Ghana
Strupat, Christoph / Jörg Peters / Maximiliane Sievert (2015)
in: European Journal of Development Research 27 (1), 99-121

Gender mainstreaming in SADC and SADC-EU trade relations
Hulse, Merran / Anna van der Vleuten (2014)
in: Anna van der Vleuten / Anouka van Eerdewijk / Conny Roggeban (eds.), Gender equality norms in regional governance: transnational dynamics in Europe, South America and Southern Africa, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 165-192

Including women’s voices? Gender mainstreaming in EU and SADC development strategies for southern Africa
Debusscher, Petra / Merran Hulse (2014)
in: Journal of Southern African Studies 40 (3), 559-573

Actorness beyond the European Union: comparing the international trade actorness of SADC and ECOWASHulse, Merran (2014)in: Journal of Common Market Studies 52 (3), 547–565

Open access

Mehr Bewässerungslandwirtschaft in Subsahara-Afrika: durch öffentlich-private Partnerschaften?
Scheumann, Waltina / Annabelle Houdret / Michael Brüntrup (2017)
Analysen und Stellungnahmen 10/2017

Unlocking the irrigation potential in sub-Saharan Africa: are public-private partnerships the way forward?Scheumann, Waltina / Annabelle Houdret / Michael Brüntrup (2017)Briefing Paper 7/2017

Nachhaltige Entwicklung in Afrika: Was kann die (deutsche) Wirtschaft tun?
Hackenesch, Christine / Julia Leininger / Tilman Altenburg / Carolin Welzel / Julia Callies / Katharina Loy / Matthias Wachter (2017)
G20 Africa Brief

Compact with Africa: fostering private long-term investment in Africa
Kappel, Robert / Birte Pfeiffer / Helmut Reisen (2017)
Discussion Paper 13/2017

The impact of cash transfers on food security in sub-Saharan Africa: evidence, design and implementation
Burchi, Francesco / Christoph Strupat (2017)
Briefing Paper 15/2016

The Marshall Plan with Africa – Looking ahead to the principles of development effectiveness
Rudolph, Alexandra / Sarah Holzapfel (2017)
The Current Column of 2 May 2017

Outcome of the first T20 conference in Africa
Hackenesch, Christine / Julia Leiniger (2017)
Published on: T20blog, 13 February 2017

The G20 and Africa
Berger, Axel (2017)
Published on: T20blog, 31 January 2017

Localising sovereign debt: the rise of local currency bond markets in Sub-Saharan Africa
Dafe, Florence / Dennis Essers / Ulrich Volz (2017)
SOAS University of London (Department of Economics Working Paper 202)

A new climate trilateralism? Opportunities for cooperation between the EU, China and African countries on addressing climate change
Weigel, Moritz / Alexander Demissie (2017)
Discussion Paper 8/2017

The EU's response to the "refugees crisis": one year after the Valletta Summit
Castillejo, Clare (2016)
The Current Column, 14 November 2016

The European Union Trust Fund for Africa: a glimpse of the future for EU development cooperation
Castillejo, Clare (2016)
Discussion Paper 22/2016

Kooperation mit Afrika – ein strategisches Thema der Kanzlerin!
Hackenesch, Christine / Stephan Klingebiel (2016)
The Current Column, 10 October 2016

Food security in sub-Saharan Africa: a fresh look on agricultural mechanisation; how adapted financial solutions can make a difference
Ströh de Martínez, Christiane / Marietta Feddersen / Anna Speicher (2016)
Studies 91

The impact of cash transfers on food security in sub-Saharan Africa: evidence, design and implementation
Burchi, Francesco / Christoph Strupat
Briefing Paper 15/2016

Wood energy in sub-Saharan Africa: how to make a shadow business sustainable
Hoffmann, Harry / Michael Brüntrup / Clara Dewes (2016)
Briefing Paper 14/2016

Making retail modernisation in developing countries inclusive. A development policy perspective
Altenburg, Tilman / Elmar Kulke / Aimée Hampel-Milagrosa / Lisa Peterskovsky / Caroline Reeg (2016)
Discussion Paper 2/2016

Kick-starting industrial transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa
Altenburg, Tilman / Elvis Melia (2014)
in: José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs / Irmgard Nübler / Richard Kozul-Wright (eds), Transforming economies: making industrial policy work for growth, jobs and development, Geneva: International Labour Office, 355-378

Financing global development: The role of local currency bond markets in Sub-Saharan Africa
Berensmann, Kathrin / Florence Dafe / Nannette Lindenberg / Ulrich Volz (2015)
Briefing Paper 11/2015

Das Hausrezept für eine bessere globale Ernährung?
Brüntrup, Michael / Aimée Hampel-Milagrosa (2016)
Die aktuelle Kolumne vom 29.03.2016

Erfahrungen und Perspektiven nachhaltiger Intensivierung der Landwirtschaft in subsaharischen Ländern
Brandt, Hartmut / Michael Brüntrup (2014)
Discussion Paper 30/2014

Policies and institutions for assuring pro-poor rural development and food security through bioenergy production: case studies on bush-to-energy and Jatropha in Namibia
Brüntrup, Michael / Katharina Becker / Martina Gaebler / Herrmann Raoul / Silja Ostermann / Jan Prothmann (2016)
Studies 90

Wood energy in sub-Saharan Africa: how to make a shadow business sustainable
Hoffmann, Harry / Michael Brüntrup / Clara Dewes (2016)
(Briefing Paper 14/2016) 

Economic Partnership Agreements: implications for regional governance and EU-ACP development cooperation
Hulse, Merran (2016)
Briefing Paper 12/2016

International and local benefit sharing in hydropower projects on shared rivers: the Ruzizi III and Rusumo Falls cases
Dombrowsky, Ines / Julia Bastian / Daniel Däschle / Simon Heisig / Johannes Peters / Christian Vosseler (2014)
in: Water Policy 16 (6), 1087-1103

What can be expected from international frameworks to regulate large-scale land and water acquisitions in sub-Sahara Africa?
Brüntrup, Michael / Waltina Scheumann / Axel Berger / Lidija Christmann / Clara Brandi (2014)
in: Law and Development Review 7 (2), 433-471

Ostafrikas „Highway to Oil“
Kappel, Robert / Babette Never (2015)
Die aktuelle Kolumne vom 26.01.2015

Not a panacea: private-sector engagement in adaptation and adaptation finance in developing countries
Pauw, Pieter (2016)
Climate Policy, 15 (5)



Panel Discussion
„Finanzialisierung“ des afrikanischen Agrarsektors: Chancen, Risiken und Leitplanken
Bonn, 18 July 2017

Event seriesDrought resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa: Research meets Development Bonn, 6 April 2017 until 13 July 2017

T20 Africa Conference
Africa and the G20: Building alliances for sustainable development
Johannesburg, 01 - 03 February 201

Emerging Power or Fading Star? South Africa’s Role on the African Continent and Beyond
Cape Town, 12 - 14 July 2016

Rwanda – A Developmental State and Donor Darling?

Bonn, 06 - 07 October 2016

Emerging Power or Fading Star? South Africa’s Role on the African Continent and Beyond

Cape Town, 12 - 14 July 2016